The military should apologize for Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder – by Shiraz Paracha

Related posts: LUBP archive on Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

Parrot writers and journalists in Pakistan always praise the position of a serving Army Chief. Those who have sold their souls tell us how great the military’s top brass is. It does not matter if it includes generals, who surrendered in Dhaka, and those who ran away from Kargil, or those who killed an elected Prime Minister and tore apart the constitution. Even military leaders accused of corruption, incompetence and misconduct are portrayed as heroes.

It is not surprising that we are told that the current Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, is the only capable saviour of Pakistan. Analysts, anchorpersons and columnists, who pretend to be mouthpieces of the military, inform us that General Kayani is different than his predecessors.

Not very long ago, General Kayani was the right-hand man of General Parvez Musharraff. After Kayani became the Commander-in-Chief, General Musharraff received a guard of honour at the end of his illegal stay in the President House. The military is a state within the state in Pakistan. The sword of a military intervention still hangs over the civilian government as the power equilibrium continues to be in the military’s favour even under General Kayani.

Nonetheless, so far, General Kayani has acted wisely and he appears softer than the previous heads of the Pakistani military. The Armed Forces are supposed to defend a country but the Pakistan military has embarrassed Pakistan many times. The Armed Forces are a symbol of pride for the people of a country; in Pakistan the military has caused national discomfiture. Some Pakistani generals wanted to make history—they left with dark history.

General Kayani, however, could be an exception. May be he can heal the wounds, which the country has suffered at the hands of its Armed Forces. Perhaps he can assist in bringing an end to a crisis that started in the early morning of April 4, 1979 when generals of the Pakistani Army had committed a horrendous crime.

It will be a great service to Pakistan if the military, under General Kayani’s command, parts ways with the past and throws away the colonial legacy of righteousness and supremacy. Like other institutions in Pakistan, the military, too, needs critical self-review. Instead of applying media management techniques to boost its image, the military ought to start a new chapter by publicly admitting that the generals, dead or retired, who have hurt the military and Pakistan will be tried in military courts for treason. New officers should be told that the military had rotten eggs in its basket and that such characters will not be tolerated in the military’s ranks again.

General Kayani along with his top commanders should visit Ghari Khada Buksh, Larkana and offer a sincere apology, on the behalf of the military, for killing the founder of a new Pakistan. This would be a big step towards true reconciliation.

The Armed Forces should present a guard of honour to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for saving the defeated and broken Pakistan. They should salute Bhutto for rescuing 90,000 soldiers who had surrendered to the Indian Army in Bangladesh. Monuments of Bhutto should be erected in all cantonments because Bhutto built a new defence shield for Pakistan.

Z.A Bhutto restored Pakistan’s integrity and never compromised on national interest. He earned respect because he could talk to anyone eyeball to eyeball. Bhutto always held his chin high. His role and deeds for Pakistan should be included in history textbooks, especially in those taught at the military schools so that soldiers are aware of their true national hero.

Unless the Pakistan Armed Forces recognize and admit that the Bhutto’s murder was the military’s biggest blunder, and ask for forgiveness, Pakistan will not be at ease with herself. It will remain a disturbed and divided country.

At the same time, the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Lahore High Court must reverse the decision of Bhutto’s judicial murder and seek an apology from the people of Pakistan. The Supreme Court is guilty of gross injustice. The Bhutto case is a stain on the institution of judiciary. Bhutto’s blood will stay fresh in the courtrooms until justice is done and Bhutto’s dignity is returned to him by the Court. The integrity and respect of the Supreme Court of Pakistan will never be restored without declaring Bhutto innocent and calling him Pakistan’s national hero.

Also the Supreme Court should formally admit that judges who were instrumental in providing legal cover to martial laws and dictators were actually traitors. The Court should give a similar verdict about generals who imposed military coups and derailed Pakistan.

Bhutto prevails in Pakistan even 32 years after his physical death. His glory is untainted and love for Bhutto has not been diminished from the hearts of the masses.

Anti-Bhutto camp often moans why Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is still alive politically and why his influence and legacy is so strong in Pakistan? Bhutto divides Pakistan because his killers have not asked, sincerely, for forgiveness nor have they forgiven Bhutto for saving and serving Pakistan.

Shiraz Paracha is a journalist and analyst. His email address is

Further readings:

Pakistan: Bhutto’s (Judicial) Murder -by Inam R Sehri

A tribute to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – by Ali Nawaz Chowhan


General Zia ul Haq’s interview 1977

Qatal Ki Raat Zulfiqar Bhutto – Documentary (PPP)

Zulfiqar Bhutto Execution Special – Kamran Shahid



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